The first chapter of the Gospel of Luke outlines the beautiful encounter of Mary’s visitation with her cousin Elizabeth. Mary, pregnant with our Lord Jesus Christ, travels from Nazareth to the Judean Hill Country to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. We go on to read that when Mary greets Elizabeth, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps with joy. What an incredible moment in history! Two beautiful, holy, and pregnant women, come together and the outcome is joy.
Fast forward to today, in the year 2021. What do our visits with our pregnant mothers and mothers of newborns look like? Are we reaching out to support the mothers in our communities?
Pregnancy and life with a newborn come with many moments of pure joy, beauty, and immense love! However, there are also challenges and difficulties that mothers face in the beginning stages such as sleep deprivation, isolation, feeling overwhelmed, and lack of support to name a few. The presence of depression and/or anxiety in motherhood is a very real situation during pregnancy and even up to a year after the child has been born (see here). Not only does it impact the mother and her children, but the father as well. More than ever before, we are being called to support motherhood in our culture. How do we as a community support our mothers?
Below are five simple ways we can support new mothers in our communities.
1. Visit your friend: All mothers are different in when and how they like to receive visits in the new-
baby stage. I encourage you to listen to your friend, honouring the times and places that work best for the both of you. If you are both stuck on ideas, planning a walk together with the baby is a good way to bond and assist in good mental hygiene. Offering to pray with a friend during your visit is also a great way to bring Jesus into your visit and to intercede for her and her family.
2. Greet your friend with joy and love: In the story of the visitation, we can only imagine what Mary’s greeting was like. In the Hail Mary, we refer to Mary as being “full of grace”. I encourage you to greet your friend with grace. Smiles, hugs, and a warm greeting with words of encouragement is a beautiful way to show that you are present with your friend. I always appreciated it when my friends would say things like, “you look radiant” or “you look wonderful”, even if I was awake for many hours the night before with my baby! Bring Jesus, the Prince of Peace to your friend. Mary literally brought Jesus to Elizabeth!
3. Give the gift of meals: I have come to notice that some new mothers do not accept when you offer to make them a meal. Sometimes, I find it is easier to prepare the food and then tell them you can drop it off at their most convenient time. There is also a great website called Meal Train. Through this very easy-to-use website, you can set up a calendar with dates for people to schedule when they can bring a meal to a family. On the profile, you can set up any dietary information or the times when the family would like to have the meal provided to them. I have used this website a few times and it is brilliant.
4. Give other types of gifts: I encourage you to listen to what your friend might need. She may require a bag full of hand-me-down baby clothes, or maybe she needs monetary help to buy that double pram in preparation for twins. If you have no clue as to how you should gift a new mother, diapers and fragrance-free wipes are always a good go-to!
5. Use technology to reach out to your friend: I always found it very encouraging when my friends would text or call to say that they were thinking about me. Depending on your relationship with your friend, some great texts to send could include, “thinking about you today”, “sending you a big warm hug”, or “praying for you and your family today”. This is a great way to show your friend that you are available and caring for their well-being.
Even though Mary had to travel a significant distance to visit Elizabeth, she made the effort to reach out to her cousin as a part of her greater community. If we ourselves know a friend who is pregnant or has a newborn, we need to find creative and effective ways to connect and support them the best that we can. Helping a mother out not only supports the mother but the entire family as well. I encourage you to reach out to that mother in your life, whether it’s through text, phone call, or visit. Like Mary, we need to bring Jesus to our mothers out there, because perhaps there is a child waiting to leap with joy!